In an attempt to address ongoing budget difficulties, WMATA recently proposed several options, including service changes and fare increases to its rail and bus services. CityLab reports that both changes will disproportionately affect riders East of the River.
The proposed service cuts would eliminate service to twenty Metro stations during off-peak hours—more than half of which sit east of the Anacostia, in the District and Prince George’s County. Because six of the stations reside in Wards 7 and 8, “the proposal would disproportionately hamper D.C.’s poorest and blackest communities,” whose riders are more likely to use transit during off-peak hours. What’s more, the WMATA proposal doesn’t offset the closures by expanding bus service.
The Post points out that WMATA could face serious questions about the cuts’ disproportionate affect on poor residents. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act requires that “transit agencies enacting such significant changes in service must prepare an ‘equity analysis’—a report that outlines the way that proposed changes would affect riders, and what types of riders would bear the greatest costs.” Agencies making similar cuts in service to poor communities of color have faced civil rights lawsuits and federal complaints, including most recently in Los Angeles five years ago, the Post reports.
WMATA has also proposed cutting its late-night service in an effort to make the infrastructure more available for repairs once the SafeTrack initiative concludes. A public hearing is scheduled for Thursday, October 20, to discuss those proposals; riders can also take an online survey or email WMATA their comments in response to the proposals.